Information Systems

What are information systems?

Schools use information systems to track pupils' attendance in a database. This will keep track of related information like their home contact details and timetables of their classes.

An information system is a program on a computer that is used to store and organise information about a person or object. The contacts list in a smartphone is a simple information system, whereas a modern social media website is a very complex one.

Facebook is an example of an information system that has millions of users’ details stored in a database. This holds information including usernames, email addresses and passwords.

What is a database?

A database consists of three parts. The file, records and fields.

The contents of a database.

A database file stores all of the information on a particular subject. It is made up of records.

A record stores all the information about one person/thing. It usually consists of several different fields.

A field stores one piece of information.

In a school, all of the information on pupils would be stored in a file. The file will consist of many records, with every individual pupil having their own individual record. All the pieces of information stored on the pupil would be stored in different fields.

Imagine all of the organisations that use databases to store information. Schools, hospitals, Facebook, Twitter, banks, and email account holders all use databases to store data.

Question

Think of five more organisations that may use databases to store information.

Answers could include eBay, the police, Instagram, libraries, mobile phone companies, holiday companies

Now think of all the individual pieces of information they will store. For example, an employer would store the following:

  • Forename
  • Surname
  • Address
  • National Insurance number
  • How many days a person has been off sick
  • Emergency contact telephone number

The graphic below shows some examples of information that will be held on you:

Types of information that is stored in a database.

Each of these pieces of information is stored in a separate field and some of the pieces have different data types. You may be familiar with the different data types or variables used in the Software Development section.